This post was originally published on the Collabnet VersionOne blog.
In our recent webinar, “Strategies for Working with Distributed Agile Teams,” we shared some best practices and tips on how you can work effectively with distributed Agile teams. This post dives into video conferencing best practices that will help improve engagement within your remote teams.
According to the graph above – which is slightly outdated, but still proves a point – if you want engagement, you want to get as close as you can to the top right scenario, which is face-to-face with a whiteboard.
Currently, face-to-face contact is not possible, so what are some other options?
The best engagement occurs in a group when every member is on the same platform. For example, on a Zoom call, when there are 10 people on video and one person dialed in without their video on, there will be more engagement between all of the video participants and the person on the phone will not be as included. Bring everyone to the same level so that you are all even – in this example, everyone should turn their video off.
Allow for unexpected interruptions
It is very common on video chats that there are one or more people who do not like to turn on their video. However, according to the graph above, video chatting is closer to face-to-face contact than other communication options. Encourage teams to lower the bar as to what is expected right now. If your team members know that it is ok if children jump in, if pets walk by, or if another unexpected interruption occurs, they are more likely to feel comfortable on video.
Another option is to turn on video at the beginning of the call to say hello, turn off video for the middle of the call, and turn on video to say goodbye. Meet your team members where they are, and do your best to help them feel comfortable.
Video conferencing platform features
Video conferencing platforms have a lot of ways to encourage participation. Some have virtual hand-raising for asking questions, some have a chat option, and others have fun background-changing abilities! Consider putting together a how-to document for your team so that they can get comfortable using your new video chat tool.
In order to really engage your team members, encourage discussion. During meetings, use open-ended questions. Make sure everyone has a chance to talk and that no one person dominates the discussion. If you’re hosting a meeting with your team, know that you may need to interrupt someone speaking in order to keep everyone on task and on time. As the host, it is also your responsibility to call on those people who haven’t had a chance to speak – even if they don’t have anything to contribute, giving them the time to speak creates a supportive space, showing your team that everyone has a place.
Before and/or after your meeting, make time for chitchat. Keeping things light right now can be very helpful and allow for ease on your team even in the most critical meetings.
Overall, the entire globe is dealing with an unprecedented scenario, so it is important to remember that every member of your team is dealing with things in their own way. Have agendas, but allow for flexibility. Keep your team on track, but remember to keep your expectations in check. The more you connect with your team as close to face-to-face as possible, the more comfortable each member will be with their new remote life.